Following the conclusion of East’s varsity football season at the end of October, basketball quickly came around the corner and tipped off over Thanksgiving break.
The varsity boys’ basketball team won the championship game of the Hoops for Healing tournament at Oswego High School against Neuqua Valley last Friday night by a score of 53-33.
The Wolves reached the title game following wins against Downers Grove South, Hinsdale Central, and Naperville North, respectively. All games were taken with ease through the tournament, barring the narrow 55-52 victory over Hinsdale Central on Tuesday.
At first, this game appeared to be a slugfest between two well-coached programs, as Neuqua Valley used a second quarter surge to bring the game within three points going into half.
Junior guard Joey Patti saw no issue with the game being tight going into the second half.
“Whenever we go into halftime, no matter the circumstances, we always believe in each other and are never worried because we know how good we are when we just play together,” Patti said.
Despite the Black Friday sales going on that night, the Wolves were still caught stealing — the ball, that is. East elevated their defensive performance going into the second half, allowing only nine points through the rest of the game and forcing a total of 17 turnovers.
“After the [Wildcats] 11-0 run before halftime, we came out and locked in defensively and got multiple steals and stops which led to our offensive buckets,” senior Devon Oregon said.
Oregon scored 14 points in the first half of the game and tacked on another five in the second for a total of 19 points Friday, which earned him player of the game honors.
“It was a great feeling being named player of the game,” Oregon said. “I got it going in the first half by taking what the defense was giving me.”
Oregon was not without help on the offensive side. Senior Patrick Robinson, a recent University of Missouri-St. Louis commit, scored 10 points and added three assists in the victory.
Robinson added some hardware to his shelf as well, winning the overall tournament MVP through his consistent scoring and solid defense this week.
“Tournament MVP is a nice accolade, but I’m still looking to win games which is all that matters,” Robinson said.
The ability by both players to score was impressive, but the overall key to success for the Wolves on Friday was their prideful defense that was able to shine through in the second half, as highlighted by head coach Ryan Velazquez.
“We talk about being connected at the defensive end. It wasn’t perfect tonight but it was pretty good,” Velazquez said.
Following their hot start, the varsity team hits the road to take on a 2-2 West Aurora team on Tuesday to open up conference play.
Charles Jaegle is the Sports Editor for Oswego East High School’s online news magazine the Howl